Max Golden 3/17/2005-8/27/2007
One of the memorable dogs in "DOGS I HAVE MET" is Max, who inspired the chapter titled "A Unique Dog." Just days before the book began shipping I heard from Erin that Max had passed away. With her permission, I'm sharing her letter and in the comments section, the original email she sent me about their unique dog:
Dear Friends and Family,
Many of you knew our dog Max personally, and those of you who didn't had certainly heard all about him and how he had the rare genetic bleeding disorder hemophilia. This Monday morning around 7:00 AM, Max passed away. He was fighting to recover from an injury he had obtained a week earlier.
On the 18th we had taken Max and our other little dog Dobby down to my parents' place in the country so Max could swim in the creek, one of his favorite activities and the safest form of exercise for a hemophiliac. My sister’s horse had recently been moved into a temporary wire-fenced pasture on my parents' property. When we were getting Max out of the car, he bolted out of the back, slipped out of our grasp, and flew into the pasture along with two of the other family dogs. Before anyone could even react, the horse was bucking and running, the dogs were barking and chasing, and Max was rolling on the ground. We think he got kicked or clipped in the hind quarters and hit his head when he rolled on the ground.
After we got all the dogs out of the horse pen, they all seemed fine, and Max was okay the rest of the day. That night, though, when we got Max home, he wouldn't put any weight on his back right leg. We took him to the vet and he got his first transfusion, which is, of course, how bleeding is stopped in a hemophiliac. On Sunday, he seemed completely fine, but we kept him quiet, iced his leg, and put him on his pain medication for three days just to be sure. By Wednesday, he was completely himself again, and we were so relieved.
But then on Thursday he seemed very lethargic and sore and disinterested in anything except a few dog treats. We took him in to the vet again Thursday evening, and his blood work revealed that he wasn't bleeding, so the vet recommended we restart his pain medication and keep him quiet. She also noticed a bruise in his right eye and said to watch it.
Friday morning, he was even more lethargic, and both eyes had bruises, so we immediately took him back in for another transfusion. This one didn't seem to affect him much, as transfusions always had before, and we were terrified. Sat. night we went back to the vet. Again, tests showed that he wasn't bleeding, and X-rays showed no damage to bones and no fluid in his heart or lungs. Back home we went.
By Sunday morning, Max began having difficulty putting any weight on his back legs and had obvious head pain. By noon, he couldn't sit up; then he couldn't walk; then he lost bladder control. We rushed him back to the vet, and they started a third transfusion. Meanwhile, I was consulting with an incredible woman I'd found via the Internet, Jean Dodds, a veterinary hematologist and expert in CA who runs Hemopet, the blood bank we purchased Max's plasma products from. She predicted that despite the seemingly normal blood tests, Max was bleeding into his brain and/or spine, thus causing the paralysis. She said he needed at least 3-4 transfusions in the next 24 hours, so our vet continued with the plasma.
Then at 1:30 AM on Monday, the vet called to say that after Max's fourth transfusion, he seemed to be doing worse, not better as we'd hoped and prayed. The paralysis had worsened, and when she did a deep pain clamp test on his back legs, he didn't even notice. This meant the paralysis was permanent whether from bleeding or from a clot, we don't know. But even if Max recovered, he would be permanently paralyzed.
Therefore, we made the agonizing decision to have him euthanized because he was deteriorating so rapidly. Around 6:30 AM on Monday the 27th, which in a cruel twist of irony also happened to be my birthday, Dave, my mother, our dog Dobby, and I headed to the clinic to say goodbye and to be with Max when he went. They carried Max in and put him on his bed, which I had brought from home. We could tell as soon as we saw him that he was already in the process of dying, and we knew then that as heartbreaking as our decision was, it was what Max needed. We petted him, talked to him, and fed him his favorite snack, bacon. He relaxed visibly with his head in my lap and with his family and his brother around him. Then when we were ready, the vet came in and gave him the injection. We held him while she did it, and he was already so close to passing that within five seconds of the needle going in, he was gone.
Dave, Dobby, my family, and I are all devastated. Despite his hemophilia, Max was an amazing, friendly, and intelligent dog who managed to live a full, albeit short, life. He had earned his Canine Good Citizen certificate, scored at the top of his obedience classes, become certified with me to do Animal Assisted Therapy as Pet Partners through the Delta Society, and volunteered with the Texas Central Hemophilia Association, where he met others who, as one little boy said, had "special blood" just like his. We miss Max desperately, and hope you all will understand if you do not hear from us for a while.
MAX GOLDEN March 17, 2005-August 27, 2007